MONDAY VERDICT: Writing is already on the Warriors’ wall at Stenhousemuir

Stenhosuemuir 1 Annan Ath 2.   Pictures: Alan Murray.
Stenhosuemuir 1 Annan Ath 2. Pictures: Alan Murray.
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Standing in front of the over-sized print of the club’s play-off promotion celebration a year ago juxtaposed football’s emotions.

On the wall a roaring squad, clutching flags and banners, leaping and punching the air.

Stenhosuemuir 1 Annan Ath 2.   Pictures: Alan Murray.

Stenhosuemuir 1 Annan Ath 2. Pictures: Alan Murray.

In front of it Stenny players shuffled by, Colin McMenamin’s brow furrowed as he spoke into four proffered voice recorders.

A year ago it had been Brown Ferguson talking about play-off promotion. This time, the latest Warriors boss was speaking of the opposite.

“The damamge was done over the course of the season. We weren’t relegated because of Saturday – on the day or over these two games against Annan – we’ve been relegated because of our league position.

“We were not ruthless enough. We made more than enough chances to pull ourselves back into the tie and we knew we had to. But after that Annan managed the game very well and we’re disappointed and have to see where it takes us now.

Stenhosuemuir 1 Annan Ath 2.   Pictures: Alan Murray.

Stenhosuemuir 1 Annan Ath 2. Pictures: Alan Murray.

“We have to get back up to this league next year. That’s the objective, it’s got to be. I’m sure that’s what the board will think and as manager and for my staff that’s what we expect and we’ll try to do good business to bring in players to make us better.

There will be no panic at Stenhousemuir after their elimination to Annan.

Club chairman Iain McMenemy’s coping mechanism was to pull on his club polo shirt again on Sunday and get on with planning for next season. “We’ve been here before,” mused Margaret Kilpatrick, the club’s general manager.

A level-headed approach with the eyes very much on the prize this time next season. Focused and forward. No silence from Stenny in the wake of disappointment. And they were disappointing in this two-legged turnover from Annan.

Stenhosuemuir 1 Annan Ath 2.   Pictures: Alan Murray.

Stenhosuemuir 1 Annan Ath 2. Pictures: Alan Murray.

“Not good enough” on Tuesday according to manager McMenamin, they were brighter at home in front of a noisy crowd and could have reduced the deficit had Alan Cook not hit the bar, Sean Dickson fired in and not wide and Mark McGuigan forced home another of his many chances this season.

But they didn’t and Rangers’ loanee Kyle Bradley slammed Annan further ahead after only 11 minutes and despite the home side’s pressing, it fell away in the final quarter of the encounter.

After half-time there was really only one winner and as time edged towards the end, Annan supporters realised the day was theirs. Steven Swinglehurst made sure of it 15 minutes from the end, an end that was called for from even Stenhousemuir’s players from ref David Munro as 90 minutes approached.

Frustrations grew as desparation did and passes flew, just not in the right direction. After a valiant fight this season Stenhousemuir are down after all.

Stenhosuemuir 1 Annan Ath 2.   Pictures: Alan Murray.

Stenhosuemuir 1 Annan Ath 2. Pictures: Alan Murray.

No Falkirk district derby for League One, and the second side from Dumfries and Galloway to force a local club out inside a week, since Queen of the South bettered Falkirk’s goal difference to send the neighbouring Bairns down to the third tier last week.

Stenhousemuir’s spell at that level was brief, but already Colin McMenamin is planning on returning and the Warriors, with Alan Cook and Mark McGuigan signed up will already be among the favourites for the League Two title.

There won’t be dwelling on this relegation, there can’t be with the reminder of the possibilities and targets of what next season could hold not far away – just along the wall of the Ochilview tunnel.

Stenhosuemuir 1 Annan Ath 2.   Pictures: Alan Murray.

Stenhosuemuir 1 Annan Ath 2. Pictures: Alan Murray.

Stenhosuemuir 1 Annan Ath 2.   Pictures: Alan Murray.

Stenhosuemuir 1 Annan Ath 2. Pictures: Alan Murray.

Stenhosuemuir 1 Annan Ath 2.   Pictures: Alan Murray.

Stenhosuemuir 1 Annan Ath 2. Pictures: Alan Murray.

Stenhosuemuir 1 Annan Ath 2.   Pictures: Alan Murray.

Stenhosuemuir 1 Annan Ath 2. Pictures: Alan Murray.

Stenhosuemuir 1 Annan Ath 2.   Pictures: Alan Murray.

Stenhosuemuir 1 Annan Ath 2. Pictures: Alan Murray.

Stenhosuemuir 1 Annan Ath 2.   Pictures: Alan Murray.

Stenhosuemuir 1 Annan Ath 2. Pictures: Alan Murray.